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It Still Depends on How You Look At It

Not to obsess over this one case, but LPB updated its post on the Green matter with new information: the D.C. Bar filed additional charges against Green on September 25, 2013, but those charges were not reviewed and approved until October 2014. Is this the game-changer LPB thinks it is? Does it prove that the Washington, D.C. disciplinary authorities have been too lenient with Green?

Not based on what we know right now, namely: very little. We do not know what the new charges are. We do not know what time period they cover (the 2011 case reported on above involved events dating from 2007). We do not know if the recently-approved charges were only approved recently due to the bar’s laxity, as LPB implies, or whether perhaps additional investigation was needed because the charges were less than fully supported or corroborated.

The presence of new (as yet unknown) charges does not render the previous sanction insufficient or a “blithe[ ] assur[ance]” of Green’s fitness to practice. The Board recommended a suspension and a revocable probation. That is a disciplinary sanction with meaning and import, grounded in precedent; any lawyer subject to such a sanction would not deem it a piece of cake. Perhaps there will be more proof in the new proceedings indicating that heavier sanctions – even a fitness requirement – would best protect the public. But saying it does not make it so.

ETA: The saga continues, apparently, though in and through the Maryland discipline system, not D.C. There was a January 2014 report that recommended discipline, although I have not been able to locate a copy of the report to determine what the recommendation was. The case remains pending, though, and Green remains on the Maryland rolls. He may not, however, have had “two years of discipline-free practice” in D.C.: the Boards’ reports in that jurisdiction show that Green had been administratively suspended for failure to pay bar dues. If he didn’t abide by that suspension and practiced anyway, that could be a separate ground for discipline.

None of this should be taken as support for the argument that the most recent D.C. Bar report was wrong not to recommend a fitness showing on the facts before it.

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